Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Best of Big Joe Turner (Rhino, 1998)

Singer Big Joe Turner had quite a career, starting as a blues belter and bartender in the rough and tumble speakeasies of prohibition era Kansas City. Then, with hardly a change in his style, he took part in the birth of rock ‘n’ roll music, scoring a string of hits for Atlantic Records in the 1950’s. Finally, he eased off into the sunset performing at jazz and blues festivals around the world until his death in 1985.

This disc is a collection of Turner’s best-known singles on Atlantic Records, which vaulted him to middle aged rock and roll stardom. “Shake, Rattle and Roll” blasted Turner onto the national stage, but there are a number of interesting variations on that theme that were popular as well, like the bluesy “Flip, Flop and Fly.” Atlantic was always on the lookout for pop hits, but it’s interesting that Turner never had to truly change his style, popular taste just came around to him.

There are a number to Turner collections available on compact disc, including a five disc JSP collection that covers his early years, and different Rhino three disc set that is a career wide retrospective. But for fans of jump blues or early rock ‘n’ roll who are interested in getting the hits, this makes for a great primer on Big Joe Turner.

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